President & Founder
Dan Morphy, President of Dan Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA and Las Vegas, NV, is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa. He grew up in a family of avid collectors, with his retired physician father, John Morphy Sr., and his mother, Janet, constantly encouraging the appreciation of antiques in the home and fostering a love of collecting among their children. “I grew up around antiques and attended many shows and auctions with my dad at a very early age,” Dan said. “My first collection was coins, followed by baseball cards, marbles, candy containers and finally banks, both still and mechanical.”
It’s not surprising that Dan was attracted to mechanical banks as a youngster still in grade school. He recalled: “My dad’s collection was displayed on a shelf that ran around the perimeter of my bedroom. I couldn’t touch them, but I could admire them.” At the age of 10, Morphy started buying still banks through the mail. Within a few years, he was both buying and selling mechanical banks through various sources and meeting collectors who are now among the most revered in the hobby – fellow Pittsburghers Dr. Anthony Haradin and Dr. Paul Resnick being among them. Through a magazine ad, Morphy became acquainted with Indiana-based collector Stephen Steckbeck, from whom he bought a number of duplicate banks for resale. Their mail-order transactions developed into a friendship that would come full circle in 2006 with the consignment of Steckbeck’s spectacular bank collection to a Morphy Auctions sale (Oct. 27, 2007).
As a young man, Morphy felt certain he was destined for a career in pharmaceutical sales and, accordingly, entered Penn State, where in 1995 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, with a minor in business. But Morphy’s career plans took an unexpected turn a year prior to graduation. While en route to the New Jersey shore where his family was vacationing, Morphy stopped to do some antiquing and refresh the showcase he and his parents maintained in South Pointe, a multidealer shop in Adamstown, Pa.
“I had forgotten that the shop was closed on Wednesdays,” Morphy said, “so I called the owner and asked if they would come and open up the shop for me.” While waiting in his car in the parking lot, Morphy noticed that there was a “For Sale” sign on the property next door. “I thought to myself, ‘I should look into opening my own place,’ so I called the realtor, eventually bought the property and, in 1997, after two years of seeking municipal approvals, opened the gallery.”
Morphy’s gallery went on to develop an outstanding international reputation, owing to its roster of top-quality dealers, many of them specialists in antique toys, banks and advertising. In 2000, Morphy expanded his business opportunities by purchasing Jim Burk’s semiannual York Antique Toy, Doll, Holiday & Advertising Show. Four years later he joined forces with fellow antique toy dealer and friend Tom Sage Jr. to establish Morphy Auctions.
Dan Morphy is deeply invested in the day-to-day operations of Morphy Auctions, and also supports and belongs to many collector clubs, including the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America, Still Bank Collectors of America, Figural Cast Iron Collectors Club, Antique Toy Collectors of America, Antique Advertising Association of America, Golden Glow of Christmas Past and several others. And while he has bought, sold and collected 30 or 40 different types of antiques over the years, Morphy says it is mechanical banks that have continued to fascinate him.
“I’ve gained and lost interest in many things, but I’ve always gone back to mechanical banks,” he said. “Mechanical banks have always been a fantastic investment even during the best or worst of times.”
Morphy says the antiques business has treated him very well, and he thrives on the challenges of each successive day. “No two days are the same,” he said. “I work seven days a week, and along the way I’ve met great people who share my enthusiasm for collecting – Bob Brady, John Haley, Don Heim and many others. These friendships are priceless to me.”
Married since 2001, Morphy and his wife, Christine, live in historic Lititz, Pa. Morphy’s personal collection of mechanical banks includes one of his favorites: a prized Two Frogs bank, in pristine condition. The collection even caught the eye of the couple’s young daughter, Haley, now an exuberant junior collector who appears poised to follow in her father’s footsteps.